From left to right: Long Island Soccer Player Hall of Fame Founder Kevin McCrudden, Jack Shannon, Sara Whalen-Hess, Dominic Padone, Sue Ryan, Ritchie Kotschau and LIJSL President Addie Mattei-Iaia.
By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
March 18, 2014-At the Huntington Hilton on Saturday night, March 8, five top Long Island soccer players were inducted in the Long Island Soccer Player Hall of Fame during the 32nd Annual Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL) Convention:
Hicksville’s Jack Shannon played for the LIJSL’s Hicksville Americans Soccer Club from 1968 to 1980. He was cut from Hicksville’s “A” team at the age of 11 so he spent many hours practicing by himself and made that squad the following year. He eventually wound up on the Hicksville Minutemen, coached by former LIJSL President Peter Collins, and the team finished second in the nation in 1979 and 1980. Jack was a member of the Hicksville Americans Board of Directors in 2001 and 2002. He was an All-American at Hicksville High School and received the Vince Lombardi Memorial Trophy for Best Student Athlete in 1982 while playing at Fordham University from 1979 to 1983. Jack played for the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the North American Soccer League (NASL) in 1982 and 1983, the New York Nationals of the United Soccer League during their one season in 1984 and the indoor New York Express in 1986 during an era when American pro soccer is not nearly as stable as it is today.
Greenlawn’s Sara Whalen-Hess played for the LIJSL’s Northport/Cow Harbor Mustangs and the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) Olympic Development Program. After competing in soccer and basketball plus running track at Harborfields High School, she became a three-time All-American at the University of Connecticut, being also honored as the NSCAA National Player of the Year in 1997 plus Big East Defender of the Year in both 1995 and ‘96. Sara played for the Long Island Lady Riders of the W-League, then the United States Women’s National Team. She replaced Michelle Akers and played every minute of overtime in that iconic 1999 Women’s World Cup final and landed on the cover of Time magazine and Sports Illustrated a few days later. Although they could not make the induction ceremony, her former teammate Mia Hamm and her former coach Tony DiCicco sent congratulatory letters to Sara. In 2001 and 2002, Sara played for the New York Power of the Women’s United Soccer Association until she tore her ACL and MCL. The recovery did not go well as her knee became infected and she became seriously ill with a severe allergic reaction. She underwent five surgeries to recover but that ended her playing career. The sudden loss of her lifelong identity as a soccer player prompted Sara to help others with the same issues so she studied for her Master’s at Fordham and her doctorate at Fairleigh Dickinson and today she’s Dr. Sara Whalen-Hess, a clinical psychologist.
Dominic Padone played for the LIJSL’s Glen Cove Soccer Club, the North Shore Soccer Club and with Jack Shannon on the Hicksville Minutemen. Dominic was also a star player at Schreiber High School in Port Washington, earning All-American honors. He played for the NASL’s Washington Diplomats in 1979, then came home to play for the Mineola Portuguese of the Long Island Soccer Football League (LISFL). His exemplary play was spotted while the team was on tour in Portugal and he was signed to a pro contract in that country. From 1981 to ‘85, he played for Portuguese First Division teams Leixoes Sports Club, FC Salgueirous and Sporting Trofense at a time when it was very rare for an American to be playing pro soccer overseas. Tragically, a MS diagnosis ended his professional career. Dominic came home and was somehow able to play a few more seasons in the LISFL.
“I have so many fond memories of growing up and playing soccer on Long Island,” he said upon his induction.
Northport’s Sue Ryan is a pioneer for women’s soccer. She started playing soccer in the 1970s for the LIJSL’s Northport Sea Devils, then played four seasons at Cortland State, winning the first women’s college soccer national championship in 1980. Sue competed in the inaugural Empire State Games in 1978, helping Long Island win consecutive gold medals during the first three years of the competition. Sue then became the head coach of the Stony Brook University women’s soccer program in 1985 and has coached the Seawolves for the past 29 seasons. In 2011, she was honored with the NSCAA Women’s Committee Award of Excellence, which honors those who have brought distinction to women’s soccer. Sue is also the head coach of Region 1 ODP and has served as head coach of Eastern New York ODP and the LIJSL Girls Select Team Program.
“Especially since my alma mater, Northport High School, did not offer girls soccer when I was there, if the LIJSL volunteers did not have the idea to start a girls soccer program in the 1970s, I wonder what I would be doing today,” Sue stated.
Levittown’s Ritchie Kotschau played for the LIJSL’s Levittown Soccer Club, then competed for the Hicksville Hawks, winning the Triple Crown (State Cup, Chase Cup, LIJSL division title) with the Hawks. Ritchie also played for LIJSL Select and Eastern New York ODP. After leading George Mason University to their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance, he was selected second overall in the 1998 Major League Soccer Draft by the expansion Chicago Fire. Ritchie and fellow LIJSL alumnus Chris Armas, teaming up for the first time, helped lead the Fire to the MLS championship and US Open Cup title in that magical ‘98 season. Ritchie had a 10-year MLS career and also played for the Tampa Bay Mutiny, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew and Real Salt Lake. He competed for the United States National Team at the Under-18, Under-20 and Under-23 levels and had one cap for the US Men’s National Team.
“Steady, consistent, didn’t stray and everybody liked him,” commented Hicksville Hawks coach John Fitzgerald, who introduced Ritchie. “He’s one of the most humble players I ever knew.”
Congratulations to all five inductees who join the inaugural class of 2013––Chris Armas, Paul LeSueur, Shep Messing and Kim Wyant––in the Long Island Soccer Player Hall of Fame.
With 123,843 youth soccer players––68,587 boys and 55,256 girls––and more than 25,000 volunteers, the non-profit Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) stretches from Montauk Point, Long Island to the Canadian border. Members are affiliated with 11 leagues throughout the association, which covers the entire state of New York east of Route 81. ENYYSA exists to promote and enhance the game of soccer for children and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 19 years old, and to encourage the healthy development of youth players, coaches, referees and administrators. All levels of soccer are offered––from intramural, travel team and premier players as well as Special Children. No child who wants to play soccer is turned away. ENYYSA is a proud member of the United States Soccer Federation and United States Youth Soccer Association. For more information, please log on to http://www.enysoccer.com/, which receives nearly 300,000 hits annually from the growing soccer community.